Session highlights: How Lavazza is changing the world, one coffee cup at a time | Guiseppe Lavazza, Vice-Chairman and Member of the Board, Luigi Lavazza S.p.A.
Innovation keeps brewing at Lavazza
“Purpose is an essential part of our company DNA,” said Giuseppe Lavazza, the fourth generation to be involved with the Italian coffee producer. “Without it, it’s really hard to run a successful company or to motivate your people.”
But it needs to be visible and concrete, he shared in an interview with Uschi Schreiber, EY Global Vice Chair – Markets and Chair of Global Accounts Committee. To this end, the company sends employees from its headquarters in Turin to see and meet coffee growers around the world. The company also invests to create the best possible working environment for its people.
The company’s sustainability program was started “slowly and humbly” in 2002, he said, drawing on a broad network of partners that includes nonprofits such as Oxfam and Rainforest, coffee producers, and even rivals. Supporting 60,000 coffee producers around the world has helped transform “smallholding producers into entrepreneurs,” Lavazza said.
A major research project to map the genome of the Arabica bean with competitor Illy will help all involved in coffee develop strains that are less susceptible to disease, more tolerant of climate change and more productive. “We will share this knowledge with the whole community,” he promised.
Productivity is a priority challenge. While coffee consumption is forecast to increase by some 15%, there is no more land available for production. According to Lavazza, the only way to meet that rising consumer demand is by improving the productivity of coffee plantations.
Fortunately, innovation is not new for the 121-year-old company. From producing the first espresso machine to overcoming the challenges of serving coffee in outer space, coffee has always been innovating, and “with innovation comes personalization,” he said.
It is often said that family businesses are able to focus on the long term rather than quarterly results. Lavazza, too, is motivated by the wish “to pass on a great company to the next generation.” To that end he started a long process of transformation that would create a governance structure that was built on the dual values of “harmony and respect — essential for all family businesses.”
Today management is entrusted to a CEO and executive team entirely drawn from professionals outside the family. The family maintains a close watch over the company through a family board. “We take all our decisions unanimously,” said Lavazza. “Some decisions take longer, but it means we can go to our management team with 100% commitment.”
In the end, what motivates the whole Lavazza enterprise, from its family owners to its employees and partners, remains unchanged. “Our role in the world,” Lavazza said, “is to wake up very clever people every day to be disruptive.”
“Without purpose, it’s really hard to run a successful company or to motivate your people.”
- Giuseppe Lavazza
Vice-Chairman and Member of the Board
Luigi Lavazza S.p.A.
Giuseppe Lavazza has been Vice-Chairman of Lavazza since 2008. Prior to joining the family business in 1991 as the first board member from the fourth generation, Giuseppe worked in the commodities field for Phillip Brothers in London. At Lavazza, he first worked in the financial function before moving to other areas in different roles, eventually serving as Strategic Marketing Director.
Giuseppe is a board member of the Giuseppe and Pericle Lavazza Foundation, which develops international sustainability projects in coffee-growing countries while striving to support health care, social and environmental initiatives in Italy and abroad. He also is a member of the Steering Committee of International Coffee Partners and Co-Chairman of the Initiative for Coffee and Climate, which identifies strategies to mitigate the impact of climate change on the entire coffee industry and encourages sharing of good agricultural practices.
Global Vice Chair – Markets and Chair of Global Accounts Committee
Uschi Schreiber is a member of EY’s Global Executive, the organization’s highest management body. As Global Vice Chair – Markets and Chair of Global Accounts Committee, Uschi is responsible for EY’s integrated go-to-market approach around the world and for functions such as Strategy, Analysis and Planning; Industry/Sector; Strategic Growth Markets; Business Development; Global Knowledge; and Commercialization and Trade.
Uschi has an international profile in the market and is widely recognized as a transformational leader with extensive experience in driving change in large and complex organizations. Originally from Germany, she has lived and worked in Europe, Asia and Australia with experience spanning mature and emerging markets. She is now based in New York.